740.00119 EAC/104: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)

1623. Eacom 8. The review of the situation as set forth in your Comea messages 31, 32, and 3421 has been considered by the Working Security Committee.

Our general objection to the Soviet document is that, like the British draft, it limits our authority by being too specific. In our view, many of its provisions could better be issued to the Germans in the form of orders and instructions. The Soviet draft contains two provisions which are questioned here. These provisions are (1) that members of the German armed forces, as referred to in Article 2 and elsewhere, shall be declared prisoners of war, and (2) the delimitation of zones in paragraph 15. With regard to the first, it is observed that the United States and United Kingdom are parties to Geneva Convention respecting prisoners of war,22 whereas Soviet Union is not. It would be of interest in this connection to ascertain whether the Soviets propose to accord German prisoners of war the treatment provided by Geneva Convention, and if not, just what character of treatment they have in mind for them. The second is objectionable in that the delimitation of zones is a matter for agreement among the Governments of the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union, and is not, in our opinion, one which should be included in any document to which the Germans are a party. One additional comment is that the Department sees no advantage to be gained from writing war guilt into the surrender text and has doubt as to the wisdom of providing the Germans with a new version of an issue which was so adeptly exploited in the past.

We are not particularly impressed by the British fears respecting the comprehensive nature of certain paragraphs of our surrender instrument. Our principle objective is to draft surrender terms broad [Page 192] enough to give us complete and unlimited authority, leaving to agreement among the three governments questions as to how that authority will be exercised. This objective is generally consistent with the views expressed by the President, and views of the Prime Minister expressed in his speech 22 February23 to the effect that unconditional surrender means that the victors have a free hand and will not be bound at the time of surrender by any pact or obligation with Germany.

Our document, which we suggest you recommend for adoption, contemplates that it will be signed by and be binding upon the German Government and the German High Command. The insertion of “German Government” at several points in our proposed instrument, as suggested in Eacom 6,24 covers this point, and we see no need for alternate drafts.

In view of the nature of American and British military command, our surrender instrument provided for signature by the Supreme Allied Commander on behalf of both the United States and United Kingdom. Whether or not the instrument should be signed by both the United States and United Kingdom commanding generals would depend in final analysis upon directive from Combined Chiefs of Staff at time of surrender. We see no objection, however, at this time to making tentative provision for signature by all three Commanders.

With the transmission of documents WS–10a and WS–12,25 and the Joint Chiefs of Staff draft instrument of German surrender together with the submission by the British and Soviet delegations of texts of surrender instruments proposed by them, the Department assumes that the European Advisory Commission will now begin intensive negotiations with a view to arriving at its recommendations. While the American delegation will be supplied from time to time with subsidiary documentation, the Department believes that you have received sufficient basic papers to guide you in your discussions in the Commission. This is particularly true as we have sent you the document on military occupation cleared through the Joint Chiefs of Staff (WS–15c).26 Consequently, the Department will not at this time attempt to comment in detail upon the various provisions of the Soviet and British proposals, but will rather await your report on those points on which there is fundamental agreement and those matters which will require further negotiations, together with any texts that may be drafted.

  1. None printed.
  2. International Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, signed at Geneva July 27, 1929; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1929, vol. i, p. 336, or Department of State Treaty Series No. 846.
  3. Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 397, cols. 698–699.
  4. Telegram 1395, February 25, p. 182.
  5. Ante, pp. 104 and 100, respectively.
  6. Ante, p. 185.